Researchers at UCSF and UC Berkeley have found a way to combine a drug with a dendrimer to give a treatment that cures colon cancer in mice — in one treatment. From Phys.org:

Single-Dose Drug-Loaded Dendrimer Cures Mice of Colon Cancer

In a dramatic demonstration of the power of nanotechnology, a team of investigators has designed a nanoscale, polymeric drug delivery vehicle that when loaded with a widely used anticancer agent cures colon cancer in mice with a single dose.

The researchers, led by Francis Szoka, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Francisco, and Jean Fréchet, Ph.D., of the University of California, Berkeley, published the results of these experiments in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. This current work represents a milestone in a concerted effort to design nearly every aspect of a nanoscale drug delivery vehicle in order to maximize the anticancer activity of the drug payload…

After a single intravenous injection, every mouse treated with the dendrimer-drug construct survived until the end of the 60-day experiment and every mouse showed complete tumor regression. In contrast, none of the mice treated with only doxorubicin survived, [with] an average survival time of only 24 days.

Oh, those magic words: a “cure” for cancer and “complete tumor regression”. After so many decades of frustration, we’re not supposed to get our hopes up on a cure for cancer. But I’ve been seeing too many of these reports now, and I admit that my hopes are definitely up. And not just me: see the title of the journal article for this work — “A single dose of doxorubicin-functionalized bow-tie dendrimer cures mice bearing C-26 colon carcinomas“.

There’s that word: cures! If nanotechnology, at this early stage, can make a difference for cancer, this should greatly increase public support for nanotech R&D, especially nanomedicine. Then we can go after heart disease, Alzheimer’s, AIDS, and…aging itself. It’s all about how the molecules are arranged.

Note that Dr. Szoka has a sense of humor. And Dr. Fréchet is quite ambitious. —Christine